Oldschool Orcs and Horrible Hordes

When looking at fiction from the 80s, you often run into things that make you think “yeah, we probably wouldn’t do it that way anymore”. It’s not even that the core ideas have to be actively offensive, but just that there are much better ways to handle the presentation. Sometimes just a bit of recontextualization or the adding of a few nuanced details can make a big difference in going from stereotype back to archetype. In my current attempt to set up a big lavish campaign using the 1987 Forgotten Realms Grey Box amd the 1988 The Savage Frontier sourcebook that sticks true to the material with only expanding but not overwriting the texts, I’ve been coming across a number of things that I mentally highlighted as requiring a special touch to put them into a less dodgey looking light. Mostly it’s stuff that really just needs to be seen in its full context to take the edge of the initial dubious perception, but there is one thing that requires some real heavy work to salvage.

The primitive sub-human hordes of savages that descend on the god-fearing civilized people to murder indiscriminately and burn and plunder because it is in their nature and they lack the mental capacity to stop being evil.

Yes, orcs are fantasy monster. They are not real and don’t have any actual physical similarities with real human populations. But they are still just the same age old stereotype that has been used to demonize and villify whatever foreigners or even local minorities a people is in conflict with or just happens to make a convenient scapegoat and victim for exploitation. What do we gain by adding a monster to our fantasy worlds for which this isn’t a racist stereotype but actually the objective truth? What interesting and meaningful stories do we proeuce by having an endless supply of creatures that are just like people in every way, except that we are totally in the right to kill them by the hundreds with no questions having to be asked? Do we want to play out the things horrible racists thought should be done to other people based on their circumstances of birth?

No. There just is no way to twist and turn this to make it into something that is entertaining and fun, or at least rewarding or interesting to play. The primitive subhumans who are always to be killed on sight because their nature and limited intellect makes it impossible for them not to be evil is unsalvagable.

But in the world that is described in The Savage Frontier, the large populations of orcs and their numerous bands of raiders are a very prominent and integral component of the history, culture, and currently power relationships of the entire region. Simply removing the orcs in their entirety would be a deep cutting change to the whole setting that would already end the ambition to find out how much fun and depth can be gained from the old setting before it underwent several big retcons and dramatic style changes. The other quick and easy option is to simply make the orcs people like any other, with free will, a deep culture, and a multi-faceted society with many individual expressions. With good people and bad people, and a majority who just want to live their lives in peace like everyone else. Like we see for example in the later Elder Scrolls or WarCraft games. And this is exactly how I see the human Uthgardt barbarian tribes as something that can be handled without any cringe or allusions to old stereotypes and propaganda. But the orcs that are described in the material are very much distinguished as something else entirely. Giving them the same treatment would result in the two populations being kind of redundant, and I also feel like it wouldn’t allow the orcs to play their intended role. This has been something I have been pondering a lot for the last two weeks. Eventually I just asked the good people of the Enworld forum if they had any thoughts on this, and after a few first reflexive protests of blasphemy for even considering the question, I was given a couple of really good pointers.

First of all, we of course have to ask what is actually established about orcs at this point in the history of both the game and the setting. In the 1st edition Monstrous Manual, orcs are Lawful Evil, not Chaotic Evil. I generally think alignment for indovodual player characters is really stupid, but for monsters it can be a useful guideline for what the creator had in mind regarding their overall society and general behavior. The next thing is that the Intelligence for orcs is given as “average (low)”. This indicates a leaning towards slightly below average, but overall they generally as smart as humans, dwarves, and halflings. Already we see here that orcs are not presented as dumb brute barbarians. We also see that in the depictions of orcs from that period of D&D. Violent and evil, with armor that looks dark and shaggy, yes. But still an army that knows what it is doing. These are people who are aware of their actions, not purely controlled by animal instincts. The first thing I would do with orcs and their place in the setting is to present them as marauding armies who are feared for their organized raids, not just wild packs of roaring predators that hack down everything in their past. NPCs within the game world may still talk about them like that because of their racist prejudices, but in encounters with orcs the players should see them look and act more like lawful soldiers of an intelligent people.

Going through all the paragraphs mentioning orcs in both of the two sources I am working with, one thing that stood out is that the history of the orcs is deeply interwoven with the history of the dwarves. You can’t really study one without studying the other. As the 1st edition sources say very explicitly in numerous places, the dwarves and the orcs have been in a war for extinction for thousands of years. And the dwarves know that they have lost. In this version of the Realms, there is only a single dwarven king in all of the north, holding the last major dwarven city. And it’s not the last heroic stronghold where all dwarvenkind is rallying to turn the tide and return their people to glory. Most dwarves have accepted that it is over and that their only two remaining options are to settle as a minority in human populations or to seal the doors of their mountain holds and wait out the end of their civilization in dignity. With the big sanitization of the setting with the 2nd edition, the dwarves to take back two of their old cities and strive towards rebuilding their past glory, but the original version of the Realms had none of that. The sources mention quite frequently that the major orc settlements are inside old dwarven cities. The Citadel of Many Arrows right outside the gates of Silverymoon and Sundabar being the only one described, but with many more high up and deep below the mountains clearly implied. There even is a mention of competition over the same resources in their common homelands, but nothing more detailed is given about that.

One really good pointer someone gave me for thinking about the regular hordes of orc raiders descending into the lowlands like migratory locusts that consume the landscapes they are passing through. Coming out in large numbers from nowhere to feed and then seemingly disappearing again for several years. While that does have the old association of people with vermin, thinking about the food supply of the orc populations is a great starting point for giving them more depth. While there are large orc tribes in the High Forest and the Evermoors, the largest populations are in the Spine of the World, the Ice Mountains, and the Grey Peaks. All places with very limited food sources. And when considering fictional societies, it’s always a good start to ask “What do they eat?”

The first source of food when thinking of orcs is of course hunting for meat. Living undergound in the mountains while being snowed in means that the orcs will need a lot of food stored for the winter and will have a large demand for fresh food as soon as it is possible to come out and move around again. Both are good reasons to have huge hunting expeditions going considerable long distances to find enough prey to feed the many tens of thousands of people back home. This could be the main driving factor for large numbers of orc warriors descending from the mountains all at once on a regular basis. Not to wantonly destroy farms and murder everyone they come across, or to satisfy their endless craving for gold, but to collect and return home with food. A great alternative to hunting deer is of course to just steal some cows. Lots of meat that stays fresh until you reach home and that even has the dignity of walking on its own legs. And the Surbrin and Dessarin valley (and to a lesser extent the lower Delimbyr valley) are described as being big cattle raising areas. While agriculture isn’t that big in these northern lands, the sparsely populated prairies are pefect for raising cattle. And as such, perfect for rustling cattle as well. And of along the way you come across poorly defended barns full of sacks with grain and flour, that’s an opportunity no orc could pass on.

Thinking of the orcs in their mountains had me think of the Vikings from Norway and Iceland. An important factor in their raids was that their own agriculture was pretty awful and as a result their economy not much to speak of either. With little surplus of their own to trade, buying nice things from other peoples was not much of an option. If you want to bring some nice gold necklace or expensive fabrics for making clothes for the lady back home buy you have no money, just steal that shit from others! Or steal their money and use that to buy expensive stuff from merchants. I think that if we think of constantly raiding bands of orcs more like viking raiders who are in it for the plunder instead of a rabbid horde out for blood and carnage, we have a much better basis to consider orcs as NPCs instead of hungry monsters. Of course, this makes little difference for the human farmers or dwarven soldiers who suffer an attack from a roving orc army. As mentioned above, there is nothing wrong with the image of mindless murder machines existing among the NPC population. It’s just that as a GM who plays orcs when players interact with them, there should be more complexity given to them than that.

While players are unlikely to ever see them, the old conquered dwarven fortresses and vast cave systems in the mountains make for a good explanation for why we always only get to see lawful evil warriors. You can’t just have a whole society only of warriors. But the orc raiders we get to see are not at all representative of orc society, no more than a viking longship tells us about life in a Norwegian village. All the things that are said about orcs in the source texts might be true. But those are statements about orc armies and raiding parties. They are not statements about orc society.

Can a whole species and society truly be evil and perists over many generations? That seems hard to believe. Can all marauding bandits be evil? Duh, of course they can. That kind of comes with the job description.

Finally, there is an idea that apparently originates from the writers of a 5th edition monster books. While individual orcs might be intelligent beings with the capacity to consider their actions and exercise free will, orc society as a whole is not free to choose its own way. More so than maybe any other people other than the drow, the orcs are a society that is directly under the hand of a single despotic god. Gruumsh is not just some distant creator of the orcs in times immemorial, he is the ruler and master of the whole orc species. Not in the way of direct supernatural control of the mind of every individual orc, but all orc tribes are part of a single universal hierarchy with Gruumsh at the top. Through his shamans, Gruumsh gives direct orders to all the orc kings and chiefs who in the end are obliged to execute his will and his plans for the people. And when the ultimate dictator at the top is a god, there is little room for resistance and no hope of revolution. In this context we can very well imagine that orcs are physically capable of chosing different ways to live, but it’s the hand of their god that keeps them on their paths and that crushes even the thought that existence for the orcs could be different. This doesn’t make the actions of any orc less evil, but it provides a basis for why we never see orc tribes choosing a different life. Orcs who consider different choices probably appear regularly, but in orc society under the rule of Gruumsh, these can be crushed effectively without their thoughts reaching other ears.

So, in closing, I do believe that the situation is not hopeless. The amount of additional work is quite significant, but I believe that it is indeed possible to have orcs in the Savage Frontier, in the role they were intended, in ways that are not wildly implausible and offensive to sensibilites, only by adding to the established material and without removing or rewriting any of it. Would I go through all this trouble to make an orc horde work in a new setting I create? Absolutely not. I really don’t think it’s worth it to have a great race of evil as a regular enemy if going with actual humans can create much more interesting and nuanced situations and conflicts. But my fascination with this old setting and my dream to really make it shine with all the great potential that was thrown out so early in its existence to be replaced with cozy mush makes it seem worthwhile for me to invest this sweat and blood into this effort.

Deities & Demons

Couldn’t help myself with the title.

Starting a wilderness and stronghold building campaign setting with supernatural cosmic beings is a bit backwards, but that was one of the first things that popped into my mind and it kept running with it until it quickly turned into something that I think is really solid and might even be final already.

The big inspirations I am drawing from are the ALMSIVI Tribunal and daedra from Morrowind and sorcerer kings from Dark Sun, the Deathless of Aernal and the Inspired of Sarlona from Eberron. Also the demons and soul arts from Demon’s Souls and the Pagans from Thief. Several works that have been mentioned here before plenty of times, but ideas from Demon’s Souls and Eberron in particular are taking things in a quite different direction.

A Concept of Spirit

Both mortal beings and demons are understood to have three different components that make up their existence. A body, a life force, and a mind. As an analogy, the body is like a lamp, the life force is like oil, and the mind is like a flame. Any kind of self is in the flame of the mind. If the body runs out of life force, the flame is extinguished and the individual ceases to exist. However, the life energy of a living creature can be stolen and consumed, either in part or completely.

Many demons feed on the life force of other beings, and consuming the life force of demons is a great source of power to sorcerers. But by adding demonic life force to their own, sorcerers become more demonic in nature itself, even though the change might be outwardly invisible. When draining the spirit from other beings, it is only the life force that is being consumed. If all of a being’s life force is taken, the mind is simply extinguished.

In the analogy of the lamp, ghosts can be regarded as a kind of smoke. There is a direct link to the flame and the nature of the flame affects the appearance of the smoke that lingers, but the original mind already has gone from existence. Ghosts are kke echos instead of a voice.


The natural environment that surrounds mortals and in which they live is both a manifestation and the origin of a universal, supreme divine force. The Divine is in everything and off everything that makes up the natural world and the creatures in it. While the Divine is far beyond mortal understanding and perception, it manifests itself in various aspects known as the gods. These gods are understood to be separate from each other, but also parts of a greater whole that even they can not comprehend in their own limited experience. Mortal cults highly anthropomorphize the gods, appearing humanoid in iconography and behaving like people in myths, to contrast them from the alien strangeness of demons. But ultimately the gods are more like formless forces acting within the ultimate Divine. Individual gods don’t hold domain over specific aspects of the natural world or mortal life, but each of them is believed to have a greater control over certain aspects than others. There is no single god of storms, but there are many gods that are worshiped because of they are believed to have the power to protect people from storms. As a result there is no standardized pantheon shared across all cultures, and the religions practiced in no two temples are exactly the same.


Everything that comes from or exists outside of the natural environment and the powers of the gods is regarded as demons or demonic. Unlike the gods, all demons are physical beings, bound to a single body they can not be separated from, though often not tied to a single specific shape. As a general thing, larger and more alien demons tend to have greater supernatural powers, but their looks can be deceiving. More powerfhk demons have the ability to communicate with their minds across vast distances and even control the minds of lesser beings. But since their minds are a creation of the life force bound within their physical bodies, true demonic possession is impossible. The closest thing to that is sorcerers consuming too much life energy from demons and adding it to their own until they effectively become indistinguishable from demons themselves. But their minds are still the original flame, only know burning a different kind of fuel.

The category of demons includes many kinds of beings that would considered as spirits or fey in other contexts, but they also include incomprehensible, reality-warping leviathans from realms never seen by mortal eyes.


In a number of city states, the traditional worship of the gods has fallen back in importance behind the cults of living god-kings. These powerful monarchs claim that they are physical incrnations or avatars of gods and that they possess great divine powers to repell invading armies and force demons to their will. Though in practice the abilities they display are little difference from those of extremely powerful ancient sorcerers.

Cultural Traditions

Priests perform great rituals and sacrifices to request aid from the gods for protection and prosperity, to which the gods will respond through action in whatever way consider appropriate. The priests themselves possess no magical powers.

Typically, demons are seen as very dangerous, hostile to mortals, and never to be trusted. However, the druidic cults of many barbarian tribes see things as much more complex, with some demons being useful protectors and teachers of magic, and even caring for the people who honor and serve them in their own strange ways. But even druids agree that all demons are extremely dangerous to deal with.

Most sorcerers keep their magical powers secret and instead appear in public as nobles, merchants, alchemists, or scholars. Only the most powerful of them make no efforts to appear as regular people, as they have little to fear from regular people or worry about being bothered by local lords.

More Species of Known Space


The Tubaki are one of several species whose presence in space is greatly dependent on technologies and inrastructures of other powers. There is only a small number of Tubaki shipyards and most of them are primarily specialized on converting old purchased ships from other manufacturers to provide greater comfort to Tubaki crews. Those shipyards that do build their own ships still rely on imported hyperspace drives and gravity generators from other more established companies. Despite Tubaki worlds being generally seen as more low tech planets, Tubaki have been travelling through space for centuries and founded several dozen of colonies in other sectors. Even though most of them are of no interest or relevance for major interstellar companies.

Tubaki are humanoids quite similar in size and proportions to Enkai and Mahir, which is generally attributed to the very similar gravity and climatic conditions on the Tubaki and Enkai homeworlds producing a similar optimal body shape for upright walking humanoids. On average, Tubaki tend to be slightly taller and more muscular, but mostly stand apart due to their sand to brown colored fur and thick manes. Tubaki found outside their own system are usually employed as manual labor, primarily in mining and agriculture and also various low-level mechanic jobs. Tubaki colonies are usually too small to have advanced engineering and science schools and those individuals with advanced degrees typically find their calling in contributing to the development of their planets rather than seeking their luck among the stars.


Chosa are tall humanoids with tough green-gray hides and sharp teeth that give them a reptilian appearance. They are among the physically strongest of the species travelling space and fight fiercely and with little hesitation. Prejudices are widely spread among the other species of Chosa being violent brutes, but their homeworld actually ranks among the most technologically advanced planets in Known Space. Their ships tends towards blocky and practical designs typically ragarded as looking blunt with little thought for decorations, but compare in their capabilities to all but the most sophisticated Damalin and Netik ships.

Chosa encountered in space are often mercenaries, an occupation that their physical toughness and familiarity with advanced space technologies makes them well suited for. Chosa culture as a whole is not overly militaristic though, and their prominent presence in the mercenary business comes more from the high demand for Chosa in that line of work. There are typically not a lot of opportunities for Chosa engineers or pilots outside of Chosa systems.


The Amai are one of the newest species that have gained the ability to travel between the stars. Even just 200 years ago, the Amai had no contact of any kind with any other species and only performed a few crewed exploration missions within their home system. Being native to a mostly aquatic world with relatively few islands above the surface, Amai civilization has always been greatly limited by the available amount of land for agriculture, and even after becoming industrialized the total population has only barely surpassed one billion, which is much smaller than for any other species in Known Space. Given their relatively small number and only recent arrival among the stars, Amai are only rarely encountered by any other species and usually releatively close to their home system. Being only in contact with small frontier colonies and minor outposts and knowing about the home systems of other species only through tales, Amai tend to be quite cautious when encountering aliens or visiting unknown planets in a region of space that appear rather lawless and chaotic.

Major Species of Known Space

Known Space is home to several intelligent species that possess the capabilities for interstellar flight and have colonized worlds outside their home systems. With the vast distances of interstellar space, and communication between systems being limited to the speed with which messages can be carried by ships, there are few true interstellar governments and colony worlds are usually highly autonomous or fully independent. Though compared to the homeworlds, even the largest colony worlds have populations in the size of small countries, and most are little more than a single major city. The Esekar Sector is far away from any homeworlds or major colonies, but has become home to numerous settlements and outposts of various species from all over Known Space.


The Enkai home system is one of the great powers of Known Space, even though it is more a confederation of several nations on the homeworld and various other planets throughout the system than a truly unified state. The Enkai homeworld is one of the most technologically advanced in Known Space, which has enabled its people to establish hundreds of colonies of various sizes over the course of many centuries. Today, the Enkai are one of the three most dominant species in the Esekar Sector.

Enkai are a primate species with skin in various shades of dull red and with black hair. Among the planets on which intelligent life has evolved, their homeworld is comperatively warm and dry, though dominated more by steppes and savann than actual deserts. This makes Enkai quite well adapted to deal with high air temperatures but they generally cope poorly with high humidity. With the exception of small outposts that have economically collapsed and never managed to recover, Enkai  worlds have generally quite advanced technological equipment.

Among other species, Enkai are known to be both ambitious and exiteable, often to the point of being reckless. Both the Damalin and Netik consider this unbecomming of such a highly technologically advanced civilization, but their ability to seize on opportunities quickly without relying on the hierarchies of established institutions has served their species well in their journey to the stars.


The Damalin are one of the oldest species travelling and coloizing space that is still in existence. They gained access to hyperspace drive technology from the presumably extinct Udur over 4,000 years ago and since then have colonized dozens of systems in the space surrounding their home system, many of which have constantly been inhabited for thousands of years by now. Damalin sates are usually in control of or at least laying claim to entire star systems.

Damalin are a amphibian species with pale blue-white skin, large dark eyes, and thin mouths. While they can survive underwater indefinitely, the practical necessities of industrial production and food preservation have forced their civilization to become almost completely land based. But still most Damalin settlements of any significant size include many large underwater “parks” in rivers and lakes, and the houses any moderately well off individuals include a pool instead of a veranda, large enough for entire families.

Damalin have a reputation among other races for chosing their words carefully and being very deliberate in their actions, which sometimes comes off as indecisive, but they often have a much greater awareness of what’s going on around them and being prepared for most eventualities than they are letting on. While their thin bodies don’t provide them with much strength, they are known to shot well and quick and rarely allow themselves to be surprised unprepared.


Long before the Damalin first left their homeworld to travel to the stars, the Netik had already settled dozens of planets throughout all the space then known to them. Like the Damalin, they did not develop hyperspace drive technology themselves but had gained it from Udur explorers and traders arriving on their homeworld almost 6,000 years ago. During the first centuries of their expansion into interstellar space, Netik colonies were established as vassal states to the Udur, making use of their existing transportation infrastucture. Correspondingly, the decline and eventual collapse of the Udur civilization had incredible impacts on the widely dispersed Netik colonies, many of which lost all contact with each other as they did not have the industrial capacity to maintain regular transportation of messages across the great distances. At the lowest point, the largest remaning cluster of Netik worlds consisted of only three major colonies and a few outposts, with a combined population of only a few hundred million. Eventually the three colonies developed industrially to a point where they could reestablish contact with a number of other colonies, though many of them had completely collapsed in the centuries of complete isolation. Most strikingly, the Netik have never been able to determine the location of their homeworld and to this day it is unknown if any kind of Netik civilization still survives on that planet. Though they are lacking a homeworld, many Netik colony worlds have exceptionally large populations in the high millions, and they numerous smaller outposts everywhere throughout Known Space.

The Netik are an insectoid race and one of the most alien in appearance to most other species. But many people who encounter them in person for the first time are quite surprised at how effortlessly they interact with members of other species. While their body language is close to impossible to read for other species, Netik are usually very skilled at picking up on social clues and picking their words well to create a common sense of understanding with other people. Among space travellers, Netik have a reputation to be generally welcoming and quite fun to be around, which often is quite mystifying to people who have never encountered them themselves.


Among all the species travelling throughout Known Space, the Mahir stand out uniquely for not actually being native to what is considered their homeworld. Genetically, the Mahir are nearly identical to the Enkai, having split off from their original species only some 20,000 years ago. For reasons that will likely remain unknown forever, an alien species visited the Enkai homeworld during the stone age and collected an estimated 80 to 100,000 people which they settled on a planet several hundreds of lightyears away. Archeological discoveries and genetic studies by Mahir scientists had determined long ago that they are evolutionarily unrelated to any other life on their home world and had left no evidence of their existance on prior to the established date anywhere on the planet. It was only when the Mahir gained access to hyperspace drives and encountered the Enkai 400 years ago that the true origin of their species was revealed.

Mahir are physically nearly identical to Enkai, with the most evident difference being in their coloration. Unlike the Enkai, the skin and hair of Mahir is nearly white. There are however various minor adaptations to the much colder environment on their new home planet, primarily in regards to temperature tollerance. These differences appear to be the result of genetic changes introduced by the aliens that originally settled the Mahir on their new planet, but the purpose of that projects remains a complete mystery.

Even though the Mahir gained access to hyperspace travel only fairly recently, their homeworld is otherwise technologically very advanced and they have become a considerable economic and industrial power in known space since they gained access to cheap raw material from other systems.


The undead are creatures who were once alive, have died, and then brought back as something else under the influence of sorcerous corruption and demonic possession. While often regarded among them by most people, ghouls are not actually undead, since even though they have become warped by the corrupting influence of sorcerous energies, they never died and in many ways continue to be what they were in life.

Ghouls are people who have been exposed to strong sorcerous energies for long durations of time. Many ghouls are the servants of powerful sorcerers or demon-possessed anathema who assisted their masters in numerous demonic rituals or haved served in their inner sanctums for many years. Others are the survivors of great sorcerous attacks or disasters that permanently poisoned their devastated towns and the surrounding land. But there are also stories of foolish explorers who got lost in the Underworld, turning into ghouls in a matter or weeks or even days as they wandered too close to demonic lairs or the remains of slain demons. But usually the transformation into ghouls is a slow and gradual one. Typically the skin becomer paler and turning grey, hair becoming thin and stringy, and eyes turning all black. Eventually their hands become claws and their teeth fangs, alongside a growing instinct to tear and bite at those who provoke their easily irritated anger. An instinct that eventually grows to start feeding on the flesh of the slain. Another side effect of people who are turning into ghouls is that they stop to age and recover even from the most grievous wounds. It is nearly unheard of for a ghoul to escape from a fight and later die from sustained injury. Often, this is the first hard proof that a person has not just been corrupted by the effects of sorcerey but turned into an actual ghoul.

Unlike what many people believe, the corruption into a ghoul does not turn a person into a mindless beast that hunts the living. This descent into savagery and madness is primarily caused by the continuing exposure to demonic corruption. The transformation into ghouls can not be reversed (though there are legends of magical springs that might have such a power), but ghouls that have managed to escape the dark places that corrupted them are often able to retain their intelligence and most of their sanity if they are able to maintain the discipline to control their bestial urges. Ghouls found in the ruins of destroyed cities or the crumbling towers of long dead sorcerers are rarely much more than wild beast that quickly attack any potential prey they think they can take down. But ghouls who are wandering the lands might be quite difficult to spot as such without taking a close up look at their faces. Traveling ghouls usually wrap themselves in cloaks and hoods, or wear masks to conceal their distorted features.

Armour Class 13
Hit Dice 2* (3-15 hp)
Attacks 3 claws and bites +1 (1d3 + paralysis)
or Weapon +1 (1d6+1)
Movement 40’
Saving Throws D12, W13, P14, B15, S16 (2)
Morale 9
XP 25
Number Appearing 1d6 (2d8)

Infravision: 90′.

Paralysis: For 2d4 turns (save versus paralysis). Creatures larger than giants are unaffected. After paralyzing a target, ghouls will attack others.

Undead: Immune to effects that affect living creatures (e.g. poison). Immune to mind-affecting or mind-reading spells (e.g. charm, hold, sleep).



Goblins are one of the many peoples populating the lands of Kaendor but they are barely seen in the cities and towns of Senkand, making their homes well beyond the edges of civilization. A large number of goblin villages exists west of the mountains in the forests of Dainiva, particularly in the caves of the lower mountain slopes and foothills, but they can also be found further west in places where the dense forest blocks out most of the sun, all the way up to the great river cutting the vast woodlands into two halves. Other settlements are located beneath the rocky highlands of the Yao, and they are also said to live in the far northen lands of Venlat.

Goblins are humanoid creatures of short stature, usually standing around four foot tall but occasionally reaching up to five feet in height. They have tough hides ranging from a dusty brown to grey that helps them blending in with rocky environments as they oftn wear nothing more than loose trousers and perhaps a simple shirt in similar natural colors. While goblins have faces similar to other humanoid peoples with small noses and big black eyes, most people regard them as rather expressionless and blank. Goblins that could be considered chatty are rarely encountered, giving them a reputation for being somewhat dull, but they are no less smart than other peoples. Many Yao who have had dealings with goblins describe them as refreshingly composed and unobstrusive.

While goblins frequently come outside to the surface, they mostly do so during the evenings and at night and prefer to stick to densely forested areas as their true home is found underground. Not only are they well adapted to living in caves, they also follow ancient customs of adapting underground spaces to their own needs. As they don’t make any metal tools of their own, and bronze blades and chissels from the surface are limited, their masonry and sculpting looks very primitive to the stonework of asura and naga and even the cities of Senkand, but their constructions are often much more sophisticated than their rough looks seem to imply.

Being fully at home in caves, goblins are incredible rock climbers, and their small and thin statures allow them to move through very tight spaces with relative ease. Many caves in Kaendor, particularly below the great mountain ranges, go incredibly deep, with many of them reaching all the way down into the Underworld. While being an incredibly dangerous environment to most peoples other than goblins, the goblins themselves make frequent journeys into the greatest depths of the Earth and are familiar with many of the main passages. Explorers trying to reach caverns and ruins deep underground without goblin guides face little chance of success, or returning.

In the woodlands of Dainiva, goblins are the only people truly native to the land. The more northern reaches of the forest close to the mountains have become home to a number of Fenhail villages, but these have only appeared in the recent centuries, after the First Sorcerers were already gone. The goblins of the forest have called Dainiva their home for much longer than that, even during the time of the Asura Lords. They still possess much ancient knowledge about parts of the woodlands that no Fenhail has ever set eyes on. While few goblin villages are exactly welcoming of visitors, few are openly hostile or ambush strangers found passing through their territory. They are most likely to stay out of sight amd wait for intruders to be on their way, but some are more open to talk, even if rarely enthusiastic. Many goblin villages are very interested in bronze blades and tool, though they rarely have much to trade other than food and leather. As one is moving deeper into the forests and away from the mountains, things are further complicated by very few goblins speaking any languages other than their own.

Armour Class 13
Hit Dice 1-1 (1-7 hp)
Attacks Weapon +0 (1d6)
Movement 30’
Saving Throws D14 W15 P16 B17 S18 (0)
Morale 7
XP 5
Number Appearing 2d4 (6d10)

Infravision: 90′.

Hate the sun: –1 to-hit in full daylight.

Goblin king and bodyguards: A 3HD king and 2d6 2HD bodyguards live in the goblin lair. The king gains a +1 bonus to damage.

Surprise: Goblins surprise characters on a 3 in 6 chance in caves and rocky surroundings.